In this personal and eye-opening interview with Nick Cannon, the multi-hyphenate and truly self-made multi-millionaire television personality – actor-musician – deejay – media mogul opens up about transcending his childhood circumstances to become one of the most successful forces in all areas of the entertainment industry. Now add dedicated student at Howard University to his resume. Nick Cannon is unstoppable.
Cannon is taking his hit long-running MTV series, Wild ‘N Out, on the road with a twentyfive date North American tour, running from August 16th through October 6th. Cannon and the Wild ‘N Out cast are doubling down on their MTV antics with a live and wilder than ever, uncensured version of the television show that hybrids improv, rap battles and hip-hop culture.
In this candid conversation, we go into taking Wild ‘N Out on the road, family, and how he protects his personal space in the storm of celebrity.
Allison Kugel: You’re now taking your hit MTV show Wild ‘N Out on the road with your Nick Cannon Presents Wild ‘N Out Live tour. The show is all about poking fun at others and being able to laugh at yourself. How do you deal with people who take themselves too seriously and have trouble laughing at themselves?
Nick Cannon: I don’t feel I have to necessarily deal with or construct a rapport in that situation. With Wild ‘N Out you know what you’re going to be presented with because that is the theme of the show, not taking yourself too seriously and having a good time. People who may not see it that way, I’d approach it delicately (laughs). But usually, if they are coming on the show they want to be a part of it and they know what it is at this point, because our show has been on for so long.
Allison Kugel: Where did the confidence come from to tackle so many different things from comedy to music to acting to deejaying, and being a successful businessman?
Nick Cannon: It most definitely came from my father and my grandfather. They’re strong alpha-type males. My father was in the world of ministry, and my grandfather was a tough in the streets type of guy. When you come from a big presence like those two, and even with a last name like Cannon (laughs), there’s a lot in a name.
Allison Kugel: At what age was your spiritual awakening where you started asking some bigger questions, like, “Who am I beyond what I do for a living, and the personality of Nick Cannon the world knows me by?” or “What am I here to give to the world?” Nick Cannon: It’s funny, but even as a young guy I was always intrigued by that, because I grew up in an environment where I was exposed to religion and spirituality at a very young age. It made me ask questions, and then when I didn’t get the answers that I wanted, I started looking within and doing my own research rather than following the flock. I would say this was as early as my adolescent years. Obviously, we grow daily, but it was in my early adulthood that I started to realize that I was in control of my own destiny, that I had to make my mark, and my true purpose had to be implemented. This was based off my own sense of spirituality.
Allison Kugel: Who has been your greatest mentor in the entertainment industry?
Nick Cannon: The person I’ve connected with the most, who has taught me the most and established so much for me in this business was probably Will Smith. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for that guy. His hands-on approach and being a big brother and a friend early on in my career was everything. He gave me my first record deal, he gave me my first television deal, and it’s the way he leads by example. Will is the most successful, nicest, most inspiring person you’d ever want to meet.
Allison Kugel: Let’s go back to this Wild ‘N Out Live tour. Are you going to be on stage at every stop on the tour, and how will it surpass watching Wild ‘N Out on MTV?
Nick Cannon: At every stop on the tour, I’ll be hosting and conducting the entire show! This live show is going to be much more raw. It’s giving you the experience you see on TV, times ten. You’ll be watching it with the energy of being in a full arena, and we’re bringing whatever city we’re in to life. We’re bringing the famous rappers and it’s a full concert. We’re bringing your favorite cast members and you’re getting a chance to hear their stand-up and laugh.
Allison Kugel: When you’re alone in quiet moments, no cell phone or television, what kinds of thoughts dominate your mind in those quiet times?
Nick Cannon: I’m still; I’m quiet. When I do have those alone times, I allow my spirit to be still. For me, that’s not really a thinking time, because I’m always working and thinking and planning. When I do get that alone time, it’s about allowing myself to just… BE. I go within and meditate and listen.
Tickets for Nick Cannon Presents Wild ‘N Out Live! 25-date North American tour are available through ticketmaster or visit axs.com for a complete list of tour dates and cities.
Allison Kugel is a syndicated entertainment columnist and author of the book, Journaling Fame: a memoir of a life unhinged and on the record. Follow her on Instagram @theallisonkugel and at AllisonKugel.com.